During his 2022-2024 Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) remarks given to Parliament on Wednesday, Premier Wayne Panton said that his government would ensure that resources would be made available to ensure that child hunger in Cayman would be a thing of the past.
Many people, he said, might be shocked by the new reality that one of the issues Cayman faced was that of hungry children.
“Study after study has shown that hungry children are poor students,” he stated. “They have poor cognition and educational performance, they are more likely to repeat a grade, come to school late or miss school altogether.”
Premier Panton said they knew for a fact there were children who came to public schools who had missed meals.
“I have spent time with PTAs and the incredible parents who have all spent time to try to address these issues. I see the concern on their faces and I share the need with them to have this issue addressed,” he said.
The Premier confirmed that one of the government’s goals was to continue to improve education beginning with a basic step – to ensure that all students were fed, giving them the foundation to earn a great education.
“For some time, the Education Ministry has had a policy of no child goes hungry; the time for talk is over, we are backing that policy with resources,” he advised.
Premier Panton went on to say that when the government discussed its goals and ambitions for the SPS and the country’s future, they all agreed that education was a top priority and drilled down on what needed to be done to ensure generations who followed were well equipped to help lead the country.
“We believe that education is the most worthwhile investment of our country’s most precious resources,” he stated.
Offerings in public high schools would be increased to allow for the re-introduction of A-Levels, the scholarship age limit for post-graduate degree programmes would be increased and Caymanians would be incentivised to continue life-long learning by up-skilling themselves.
“I am pleased that the Honourable Minister for Education agreed to join our government and to serve, for the first time in recent history, as a consecutive Education Minister. This provides continuity and an opportunity to see better outcomes from an improved policy approach,” he confirmed.
The Premier said that there should also be a joint approach between WORC and the Ministry of Education to match available jobs to new graduates.
“Our Deputy Premier and Honourable Minister for Border Control and Labour has his fingers on the pulse of the employment of our people,” he said.